publish.me: Dispelling Publishing Myths
For anyone who has taken a publishing class, as well as classes on writing realities, it is normal to hear a student exclaim surprise when things don’t necessarily happen in a way they assumed. It can be anything, from the realization most books are published approximately two years after signing a publishing contract to the high percentage of people who ignore basic submission guidelines.
I often find that there are many myths about publishing, despite the fact that the intended audience is already a naturally curious and resourceful group of people. Writers, as a practice, will ask many valuable questions; my goal is to help bring an understanding to a few of these “unknowns” of publishing. A deeper understanding will help in the larger picture, specifically in sidestepping unrealistic expectations along the way.
Did you know that unrealistic expectations can influence the query process? It starts with the basics, in that every agent and editor has detailed submission guidelines, including representative categories. There are many authors who don’t follow these guidelines, so they often find the submission process incredibly frustrating with few results. It’s agreed by many that one will get more success by doing their research of agents and editors in advance.
Timing is just as important; immediately assuming that your book will be out quickly is the first assumption to avoid. Most books are published approximately two years after the ink dries on the book contract. If it’s absolutely mandatory the book is published in a smaller window of time, traditional publishing may not be the best route. The reality is that publishers need time to market and promote a book, while also adding months for the editorial and production processes. If this root cause is due to anxiety (totally understandable), it’s worth pursuing additional writing opportunities while waiting for the book to come out. Take that energy and fuel it toward online and print publications, writing and contributing stories and essays that will widen your reading audience. Your book will hopefully have better book sales, and your writing resume will look better.
Another myth that some writers feel is that they’re alone. If you’re a writer, I can promise there’s a large community of fellow writers to engage with—with a wide variety of writing experiences and successes across the entire spectrum. That feeling of isolation during the publishing process can be stiffed by uniting with other writers. Not only will you learn more about the book world, but you’ll be sharing your knowledge with them too. This is an opportunity to create a built-in network of support as you move down the publishing path. Additionally you’ll meet other writers to discuss those worries and anxieties about writing (which is perfectly normal, by the way). Being in a fellowship of other writers will generally help remove any unrealistic expectations, while also hopefully building a stronger sense of confidence as a writer.
Now that NaNoWriMo is over, and we’re diving into the holidays, this is a great time to reflect on 2017 and your writing career. As we move forward into 2018, think about ways you can build your support network in the writing community, while allowing yourself the time to truly make your book the best it can be. There’s no need for unrealistic expectations; just have your writer hat on and your research done, and you should be well on track.
Dawn Michelle Frederick is the owner & literary agent of Red Sofa Literary, established in 2008. Red Sofa Literary is a celebration of the quirky, eclectic ideas in our publishing community. Dawn’s previous experience reflects a broad knowledge of the book business, with over a decade of experience as a bookseller in the independent, chain, and specialty stores, an editor for a YA publisher, and an associate literary agent at Sebastian Literary Agency. Dawn earned a BS in Human Ecology and a MS in Library & Information Sciences from an ALA-accredited institution. She is also one of the founders of the MN Publishing Tweet Up, which brings writers and publishers together over a monthly happy hour. Red Sofa Literary was voted as one of the Best 101 Websites by Writer’s Digest in 2012 and 2013.